Floyd Legge is back on the farm in Cudal this week after a whirlwind wool tour of China.
The sheep farmer joined a group of young Australian wool producers selected to learn more about the processing of the product they help create.
The group of 12 from all over the country were initially flown to Sydney to gain an understanding of the Australian side of the business, then on to Shanghai to learn about developing their product to increase its value in today’s market.
“Two consumer trends that we spoke a lot about were buyers looking for sustainable fibres and looking for the traceability of the material that make up their clothes,” Mr Legge said.
“Australian Merino wool has an advantage in that regard as it can be traced from farm to garment through provenance labeling.”
Mr Legge said the group learnt that the woollen garment industry is focusing significant energy on the global activewear market.
“It’s a huge industry with big potential for us as wool keeps you cooler due to its breathability,” he said.
The Australians travelled south from Shanghai to visit three different wool processing plants.
At the three facilities the farmers were able to witness three stages of production; from greasy wool to usable wool; from spinning to the dying process; and from spun wool to the finished garment.
“I leant that there are a lot of stages that follow the wool coming off the sheep,” said Mr Legge.
“It’s interesting how much time the wool is given to rest to maintain the quality of the fibre.”
Mr Legge said a highlight of the trip was visiting the facilities of Chinese conglomerate Nanshan Group in Shanghai.
“There is greasy wool at one end of the factory and hung suits at the other,” he said.
Mr Legge is home in Cudal this week, at the farm his parents founded in 1965.
Following the wrap up of his China trip, he is back to work – a little wiser – running the farm with his sisters.
The educational tour was organised through not-for-profit, Australian Wool Innovation (AWI).
It is owned by the more than 24,000 Australian wool producers who pay a 2 per cent levy on all the wool they sell.
Mr Legge said the tour gave him the opportunity to consider new ways of marketing the family product.
“With traceability a growing trend I’d like us to include a code on on our wool so people can scan it and learn more about our business,” he said.
“It’d be an opportunity to market to high end shops and fashion designers – which would be really exciting.”